14 August 2004

McGrath: A special Olympic guide

I can sympathize more than a bit with columnist Jon McGrath as he opines on Olympic coverage.
The Olympics start today, and NBC is planning 24-hour-a-day coverage on its various networks....

But with so much coverage, no one can see it all. Here's one suggestion to narrow your viewing: weed out the events that aren't real sports.

My first rule of thumb is a simple one: if the results of a contest are solely decided by a judge or panel of judges, it is not a sport.

It is a skill. It is an event. It is a spectacle. It is something I could never do well if you gave me my whole life to train, but it is not a sport.

In addition to the "no judge rule," there are a few rules I have to further define a sport.

First, the term "Degree of Difficulty" can never, ever be used to help determine the outcome.

Can you imagine if baseball had such a rule? Let's say Manny doubles in Johnny Damon with a tying run in the bottom of the ninth. The umpire could then decide that, because Manny hit a nasty slider, low and away, on an 0-2 count, that he really deserves a home run because the pitch was much more difficult to hit than a fastball down the middle. Manny trots home, game over. It's ridiculous to even suggest.

You could argue that baseball has umpires and football has referees, etc. It is not the same. Those officials are there to enforce the rules, not decide who is best. Sure, they make mistakes that affect games, but they are not the sole arbitrators of who wins and loses.

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